Cybersecurity Programs in New Mexico
| CyberDegrees.org Staff
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The Land of Enchantment can cast a spell so strong you’ll need a cyber security degree to break it. Why not choose one from our list? We’ve researched New Mexico’s education and job scene. We’ll point you to cyber security jobs with its national research laboratories, highlight active communities and events for security pros, and link you to big-time scholarships.
Studying Cyber Security in New Mexico
The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security recognizes three schools as Centers of Academic Excellence in the field of cyber security: Eastern New Mexico University – Ruidoso Branch Community College, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and University of New Mexico. Although you’ll notice other colleges on our list, these three are the most active:
- The Center for Information Assurance Research and Education at UNM launched the MS in Information Systems and Assurance in fall 2014. Since then, it’s gotten its hands on multiple grants. One is a $5.9 award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, shared with University of Virginia, to develop Double Helix, a program that essentially clones computer systems and then subtly tweaks their codes to provide cover in case of cyberattacks.
- New Mexico Tech runs the Institute for Complex Additive Systems Analysis (ICASA), which state leaders call upon to analyze hacks against critical infrastructure, such as power systems and networks. The school wins plaudits for its research, some of which is accomplished through internships. Computer Science students particularly benefit from the university’s relationship with Sandia National Labs, which works on national security issues.
- Students in the market for an associate degree should consider ENMU-Ruidoso. The school signed an articulation agreement with New Mexico Tech in 2013 to make it easier for its computer science grads to transfer there.
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Online Cyber Security Programs in New Mexico
New Mexico’s homegrown cyber security programs have yet to make it to distance learning platforms, with the exception of a certificate program from Western New Mexico University.
Online Certificate Programs in Cyber Security
The Graduate Certificate in Digital Forensics at WNMU is an 18-credit program designed for students interested in law enforcement careers. It sticks to introductory level concepts, so you don’t need to have prior education in any particular field to enter. Students can take the certificate on its own or apply the credits toward a full graduate degree.
Cyber Security Scholarships in New Mexico
Although cyber security students are eligible for a ton of general scholarships, try applying for major-specific awards to thin out the competition and increase your odds of success. You’ll find small scholarships offered through college foundations, while bigger awards are typically advertised on academic department websites.
Central New Mexico Community College
- Fred Hawker Scholarship: The Hawker Scholarship, which varies in value, is earmarked for CIS students. That includes those pursuing a concentration in Cyber Security.
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
- CyberCorps Scholarship for Service: Free tuition and fees. A $20,000 to $30,000 annual stipend. $3,000 for professional development. Those are the benefits to undergrads and grad students in the SFS program. To get funding, you must be pursuing a BS, MS or PhD in an information assurance field, such as Computer Science. There’s also a slight catch: Winners must work for a government agency after graduation.
University of New Mexico
- UNM Information Assurance Scholarship for Service: Master’s students in the Information Systems and Assurance, Accounting (Information Assurance concentration), Computer Science (Cybersecurity emphasis) or Computer Engineering (Cybersecurity emphasis) programs can apply for UNM’s Scholarship for Services, which has funding for 18 students. The award is worth full tuition, a $2,800 monthly stipend, and other allowances for health insurance, textbooks and professional development. Like SFS recipients at New Mexico Tech, winners must work for a federal agency upon graduation.
Western New Mexico University
- Ron & Jane Hall Scholarship: Students often pursue WNMU’s Digital Forensics certificate to complement a Criminal Justice degree. Upperclassmen CJ majors can apply for the Hall Scholarship if they hail from Grant County and sport a 2.5 GPA.
- Stacie Tanner Broom Memorial Scholarship: This is another award for Criminal Justice majors. Students must have a 3.0 GPA to apply.
Cyber Security Events in New Mexico
Cyber Security Meetups & Communities in New Mexico
Although there’s plenty of job activity outside of Santa Fe and within Las Cruces, only Albuquerque is large enough to support regular cyber security meetups and professional communities. Here are three:
- DC505: Come to the Quelab hackerspace the fourth Monday of each month for food and member-led discussions on hacking and information security. No experience necessary. On other nights, the group gets together for Capture the Flag competitions. After either type of meeting, attendees usually head over to Tractor Brewing for a pint.
- ISACA New Mexico Chapter: ISACA is the new name for the Information Systems Audit and Control Association. The professional organization’s New Mexico chapter convenes monthly in Albuquerque for expert-led presentations, which are usually held over lunch. Students can also join ISACA, which gives them discounts to ISACA meetings and sponsored information security trainings.
- New Mexico Technology Council (NMTC) Cybersecurity Peer Group: This group of working professionals meets every other month for lunch. Become an NMTC member to network and hear presentations from executive-level tech workers for free.
Cyber Security Conferences & Workshops in New Mexico
New Mexico went years with few, if any, cyber security conferences of note. But in 2016 a pair of newcomers emerged to spice up the state’s conference circuit.
- CyberCon: San Juan College’s Center for Workforce Development began hosting CyberCon in 2016 to encourage New Mexicans to study for cyber security careers. The two-day conference, held at the San Juan’s campus in Farmington, handles separate tracks for seventh through 12th graders, college students and private companies looking to recruit.
- ExperienceIT New Mexico: NMTC hosted this four-day event in Albuquerque in fall 2016. Though not exclusively about cyber security, the conference is long enough to accommodate multiple sessions on the topic. No word yet on whether NMTC plans to make it a regular affair.
Cyber Security Jobs in New Mexico
Although you may be tempted to start your job search in Albuquerque, consider Los Alamos. The small county has the highest concentration of cyber security workers of any area in the country, with 13 of every 1,000 jobs in security. If Los Alamos sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it’s where the U.S. built the first atomic bomb. The Los Alamos National Laboratory now tackles non-nuclear routes to national security, but it still contains plenty of nuclear secrets, and requires an arsenal of information assurance talent. Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque has much the same mission and is the #2 employer of cyber security professionals behind Los Alamos. If you’d like to work there, consider applying for its TITANS internship program, which brings college students into Sandia’s Center for Cyber Defenders and grooms them for future employment.
The third and fourth spots go to two private companies. One, RiskSense, is an Albuquerque-based firm that employs pen testers to probe clients’ web applications. The company earned a spot on the 2017 Cybersecurity 500, a roll call of the best companies in the field. The other is Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) out of northern Virginia. SAIC hires cyber security specialists in Albuquerque to provide IT services as part of large Department of Defense contracts, likely related to work done at Sandia National Laboratories (although the exact duties are literally top secret).
To keep tabs on jobs outside of the main employers, look at NM TechWorks, which maintains a directory of tech businesses, links to tech incubators and hackerspaces, and announces upcoming job skill trainings.
Cyber Security Salaries in New Mexico
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts in New Mexico make the fifth-highest wages in the country, taking home an annual mean salary of $108,000 – $12K more than the national rate. Of particular interest to new entrants on the job market is how well employers pay those near the bottom of the bell curve; information security analysts in the 10th percentile garner $66,000 a year, compared to $54,000 nationally. Why is that? According to salary data from Indeed.com, IT security specialist jobs at the Los Alamos National Laboratory pay especially well.
All Cyber Security Programs in New Mexico
Below are all the matching programs we found in our directory, from 7 New Mexico schools.
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